Let’s delve into an important initiative known as Local Law 97 (or LL97). This aggressive, groundbreaking law aims to address climate change and promote sustainability in New York City. But what are its implications for building owners and managers?
First things first: What are carbon emissions?
We’re going to start with the basics—carbon emissions. These are the gasses, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), that are released into the atmosphere. They contribute to the greenhouse effect, leading to global warming and climate change. Carbon emissions primarily stem from the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas, which are commonly used for energy production, transportation, and heating.
Do buildings have carbon emissions?
Surprisingly, yes! Buildings play a significant role in carbon emissions. Think about all the energy consumed in our urban areas—whether it's for heating, cooling, lighting, or operating various systems and appliances. Unfortunately, much of this energy comes from fossil fuel-based sources, resulting in the release of carbon emissions. It's essential to address these emissions from buildings to mitigate environmental impact and promote sustainability.
What are the carbon emissions limits for buildings under Local Law 97?
Local Law 97 establishes specific carbon emissions limits for buildings in New York City. These limits vary based on factors like building type, occupancy, and square footage. They are expressed in pounds of CO2 per square foot (lbs CO2/sq ft) and vary across categories such as multifamily residential, office buildings, hotels, schools, and more.
The emissions limits become progressively stricter over time. The initial compliance period begins in 2024, with subsequent years witnessing more stringent emissions limits. Building owners and managers must monitor and report their building's carbon emissions annually to ensure compliance with Local Law 97. You can learn more about the emissions limits at the Department of Buildings (DOB) Greenhouse Gas Emission Reporting website.
What are LL97 fines?
Non-compliance with Local Law 97 can lead to significant fines for building owners and managers. The fines depend on factors such as building size, occupancy, and the extent to which emissions limits are exceeded. These penalties include fines of $268 per metric ton for exceeding the emissions limit. Failure to submit required emissions reports can also result in fines of $0.50 per square foot per month. It's important to note that providing false information in the report may also lead to a fine of $500,000.00 and even a misdemeanor charge.
How do you measure carbon intensity of a building?
Measuring a building's carbon intensity can be complex, but there are useful tools to simplify the process if you don’t want to hire an expert. One such tool is the US EPA's Energy Star Portfolio Manager.
This resource will help you measure and track energy and water consumption, as well as greenhouse gas emissions. While these figures are not the sole requirement of Local Law 97, they provide a good starting point to compare your building's carbon limits with those set for 2024 and 2030 (provided the units used are consistent).
Once you have the total carbon emissions in the Portfolio Manager, you can calculate the carbon emissions limit by multiplying the limit for your building type by the gross square footage. If your total emissions exceed the limit, it’s time to take action.
How to comply with Local Law 97
Achieving compliance with Local Law 97 requires proactive measures from building owners and managers to reduce carbon emissions. One effective strategy? Transitioning from fossil fuel-based heating systems to more sustainable alternatives like easy to install window heat pumps, which can significantly reduce a building's carbon footprint.
In addition to adopting cleaner heating and cooling systems, implementing energy-saving measures is crucial. Enhancing insulation and upgrading to energy-efficient LED lights also contribute to reducing carbon emissions while offering long-term cost savings through reduced energy consumption.
Exploring renewable energy options such as solar power can also enhance compliance with Local Law 97. Consider installing solar panels on your building to harness clean energy and make a positive impact on the environment.
And there you have it—an overview of Local Law 97. It's an exciting step toward a greener, more sustainable city. By complying with emissions limits and taking eco-friendly actions, we can all contribute to a brighter future.